„<i>Relativ</i> natürliche Weltanschauung“ als <i>common sense</i>. Die wissenschaftstheoretischen Voraussetzungen für Schelers Funktionalisierungstheorie


  • Emanuele Caminada




Categories, Common Sense, Cultural Relativism


Relativ natürliche Weltanschauung” (literally translated: “relatively natural world-view”) is an expression that Scheler introduces in his sociology of knowledge. In the following, I discuss the historic context of this expression, its systematic relevance and finally, I suggest to translate it as “common sense”.

Challenged by the disparate amount of the cultural varieties collected during the 19th century both by ethnography and historiography, philosophy became seriously concerned with the problem of relativism.

Scheler’s programme of a sociology of knowledge was an attempt to attest at the same time the invariance of the formal structures of reason and the variability of their concrete patterns. Accordingly, the latter should be understood as the acquisition of categorial forms of thought by the lived contact with material apriori contents: Scheler calls this process “Funktionalisierung” (functionalisation), i.e. the contents of intuition becoming mental functions. This theory can be regarded as the application of the main insights of Husserl’s Logical Investigation in the domain of a universal theory of cultural change. If categories can be intuited and grasped in the things themselves, Scheler claims that different traditions can have access to different portions of the universal set of the categories of the world. The relativity of their views relies on different perspectives.

Thanks to the translation of “Relativ natürliche Weltanschauung” with “common sense”, a fruitful comparison of Scheler’s sociology of knowledge and Husserl’s life-world theory becomes possible. Both projects systematically inquire the interplay of every-day knowledge (or natural attitude), positive sciences and phenomenology. Reading Scheler’s and Husserl’s accounts as converging on the concept of common sense brings the ontological relevance of this term to the fore – an aspect that Alfred Schütz’s analysis of common sense as basic structure of the life-world disregards. Thanks to the revaluation of the concept of common sense as the concrete fulcrum of the correlation between subject and object of experience, it is finally possible to appreciate the links between phenomenology and the philosophical ethnology of the Durkheim school as well as to take part in the current debate of the so-called ontolog­ical turn in anthropology.